Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Fires Back After Sean Hannity Promotes 'Conspiracy Theory' Calling Her An Actress

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U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) at the Senate chamber to watch two votes January 24, 2019 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Who is responsible for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's success? Clusters of right-wing critics and pundits have volunteered a horde of conspiratorial answers to that question ever since the 29-year-old emerged as a leading progressive voice in 2018. Most of them, it seems, are skeptical that the former waitress could muster the political savvy needed for such a meteoric rise in the nation's Capital.

Seemingly fed up with the barrage of speculation, Ocasio-Cortez responded Friday and Saturday to those who routinely attempt to frame her success as an act of political puppetry.

"The latest Freudian GOP conspiracy theory is that there's a secret 'guy who made me' and that my male chief is 'actually' in charge," she wrote on Twitter. "They got one thing right. There is a guy who made me. My father. And my Papa raised me to command my own destiny and put patriarchy in the [trash]."

Her comments came in response to two theories that gained prominence last week after being amplified by popular right-wing figures. One such theory received a signal boost from Fox News host Sean Hannity, who directed his roughly 4 million Twitter followers to his website. In the linked article, he embedded what's described as a "must-see" YouTube video that claims Ocasio-Cortez is not a "real" congresswoman but an actress hired to play the part.

"I know this sounds crazy. But bear with me," Mr. Raegan, the vlogger from the video states at the outset of the 23-minute diatribe, which has been bouncing around the internet since January 2018. "Mr. Raegan," whose real name is Chris Kohls, then goes on to characterize a routine process through which political action committees — in this case, Justice Democrats — select candidates to support as an "audition" or "casting call." The title of the video claims it reveals "the real brains" behind her campaign.

Also last week, Twitter was rife with speculation that the Bronx native is actually a figurehead for the political machinations of her chief of staff, a theory amplified by Fox News articles with similar framing. On Saturday morning, Ocasio-Cortez said the network had reached celebrity tabloid-level proportions in its relentless coverage of her, calling it the "AOC TMZ."

Since besting longtime Rep. Joe Crowley in the midterm elections, videos of Ocasio-Cortez dancing in college to pictures of her roaming the hallways in legislative offices have become the basis for negative punditry on Fox News, where guests have referred to the congresswoman as a "little girl," and a "socialist darling," among other diminutive nicknames. The framing has resulted in both The Atlantic and Politico publishing long-form analysis on the network's treatment of her.

Last November, Ocasio-Cortez to responded with sarcasm, writing a tweet in Spanish that compared the network's "obsession" with her to a Mariah Carey song.

"Fox News has made it clear that they are far superior to, and more intelligent, than me, who they've called a 'little, simple person.,'" she wrote. "So I'm sure catching up to me in spoken languages shouldn't be a problem for them."

Correction: a previous version of this article identified former Rep. Joe Crowley as a Republican. In fact, he is a Democrat.